For a whole decade, the fourth generation Jeep Grand Cherokee served as the American brand’s flagship SUV, with numerous updates throughout its life to keep it fresh. What’s missing was a brand-new model. Finally, the fifth-generation Grand Cherokee is here, renewing much needed interest in the nameplate.
Tested here is the first ever Grand Cherokee L, a new seven-seat version aimed at the high-end market, competing with the likes of Toyota LandCruiser, Volkswagen Touareg, Land Rover Discovery and to some extend the Volvo XC90. Along with renewed and more premium offerings across Jeep’s portfolio, the Grand Cherokee L also serves to elevate the brand’s status to the level of a full fledge premium marque.
The range consists of four variants, kicking off with the Night Eagle at $82,750, progressing up to the Limited at $88,750 and Overland at $103,250. Topping the line-up is the Summit Reserve which is priced at a hefty $119,450. All prices exclude on-road costs.
We drove the Limited, which is expected to be the range’s most popular variant, as well as the top-spec Summit Reserve. Regardless of variants, pricing across the range has increased quite significantly. Acknowledging the fact that this version has an extra row of seats, the premium price tag needs to be justified. And from the outset, the vehicle looks and feels premium, even in the lower mid-spec Limited grade.
This is behemoth of an SUV and Jeep has done a commendable job in hiding its girth with neat lines, creases and contours. Of course, the brand’s trademark seven-slot grille and boxed wheel fenders continue to define the styling, but there’s premium detailing throughout making it quite a thing to admire.
The Summit Reserve gets body coloured wheel fenders and lower bumper trims, polished chrome detailing on the grille and bumpers, black roof and larger 21-inch wheels (20-inch on Limited). And it does look pretty sleek and expensive.
But the biggest step up from before is on the inside. Completely redesigned, the new interior scores highly in presentation, usability and space. It’s an inviting to place to be spending time in, an important aspect in a vehicle like the Grand Cherokee L considering how often it gets taken on long trips.
In the Limited, the wood inlays on the dash, door cards and steering wheel add a sense of warmth and luxury to the interior, while the gloss black trimmed centre console further lifts cabin ambience. Not forgetting that ultimately this is still a Jeep with a capable four-wheel drive system, the cabin materials have a deliberately rugged texture and feel, with the exception of the gloss black trim which is a magnet for fingerprints. Most buttons, switchgear and knobs are also of appropriate size for easy use.
What could be better, though, is the 10.1-inch central touchscreen which is rather small in today’s standard and feels disproportionate to the large cabin of the Grand Cherokee L. Granted, it’s easy to navigate around and the display’s clarity and touch response is very good. It supports Android Auto and wireless Apple Carplay, but the latter is prone to dropping out and when it isn’t it’s quite laggy at times. In the Limited, audio is played through a nine-speaker Alpine sound system which is pretty punchy with deep bass.
The 10.25-inch digital instrumentation cluster is a welcomed piece of tech, but in contrast to the touchscreen it lacks crispness and brightness. Customisation options are aplenty, but that’s only if you have gotten your head around the complicated and confusing settings.
The ultimate expression of opulence and luxury is conveyed in the flagship Summit Reserve through the tan interior. Those quilted Tupelo Palermo leather seats with power adjustment and massaging function for the driver and front passenger are plush, with cowhides that feel superbly soft, rich and high quality.
The open-pore wood trims are a step up from those used in the lesser variants and they present very well amongst the bright upholstery. Elsewhere, there’s plenty of soft touch surfaces and contrast stitchings to reinforce that quality feel throughout. The Summit Reserve is after all, a $120k Jeep and the interior does give out that expensive vibe, though fit and finish in certain areas can still be improved if the brand is serious about rivalling the most established premium marques out there.
The flagship variant is mega when it comes to pumping out your favourite tunes. A 19-speaker, 950-watt premium McIntosh surround sound system is about as good as you can get for audio playback in an SUV. The highs are clear, the bass is thumping and the midrange is solid.
Other goodies for paying top dollar include a dual-pane panoramic sunroof, powered steering column adjustment, a height-adjustable air suspension and 21-inch allow wheels.
We were surprised that head-up display and wireless phone charger weren’t part of the deal for a range-topping variant. To get those you’ll need to option up the $5500 Advanced Technology Group package which is fitted to our Summit Reserve test vehicle. It also brings a night-vision camera that virtually lights up the road at night and project it right in your instrument cluster, highlighting any pedestrian or animals detected along the vehicle’s path – pretty cool. For newer MY23 models (our tester isn’t) there’s also a front passenger Interactive Display which is essentially a second display on the dashboard that allows the passenger to do things like entering an address into the navigator, managing entertainment and bringing up camera views.
The Grand Cherokee L boasts a very large family-friendly cabin with seating for seven. Space across all three rows of seats is generous, including the third row. Unlike many other 7-seat SUVs, the third row isn’t for kids only as even adults can get quite comfortable back there. Like those front row seats, the third row gets its own USB A and C ports, as well as cup holders, door pockets and adjustable ventilation. The seats are slightly raised so kids can get a good view ahead and also out through those large windows.
Access to the third row is good and easy, too, with the second row lifting and sliding forward at the pull of a lever to liberate one of the widest access paths in the segment.
Further back, cargo space is listed as 487 litres with all seats up. That’s pretty good and it means you can still fit several small suitcases plus a few luggage bags even with seven people on board. Fold the third row and the space expands to 1328 litres, and with the second row also stowed there’s a voluminous 2395 litres of space at your disposal.
Jeep’s 3.6-litre naturally-aspirated V6 is getting a bit long in the tooth in today’s turbocharging and electrification world, but here it is still soldering on in the Grand Cherokee L. It produces 210kW and 344Nm, the latter peaking at 4000rpm. There’s certainly enough pull from the V6 despite this thing weighing over two tonnes, and its smooth and relaxed demeanour can only be the hallmark of a big capacity atmo V6. Just don’t expect the acceleration to be as effortless as that coming from high torque turbo engines.
The eight-speed automatic is mated to a full-time 4WD system, in the case of the Summit Reserve the 4WD is the more advanced Quadra-Trac II system. The auto box’ shifts are quick and crisp, and good calibration means it’s in the right gear most of the time and there’s hardly ever a need to override it with manual mode.
All variants bar the Summit Reserve come fitted with standard sprung suspension and it’s a pretty well sorted set up. The ride is smooth for the most part and the handling is balanced for such a large SUV as well. It eats up the miles with aplomb so it’s right in its elements when it comes to road trips.
The Summit Reserve’s air suspension isn’t as accomplished by comparison, which isn’t a surprise given how tricky it is to get right with suspension of this type. While the ride is generally plush, the damping response just isn’t quick enough to respond to high frequency bumps, and so the ride suffers on such surfaces, not helped by those lower profile tyres. There’s also slightly more roll in the bends. The good thing is the ride height lowers automatically at freeway speeds and hence it feels more streamlined, stable and secure.
Visibility all around is good except for the front quarter view which is hindered by the thick A pillar, large side mirror and the lack of a quarter window. It can hide a large van so beware. Another annoyance is the rotary gear selector which should have a push button or some sort to select Park. Rotating anti-clockwise from Drive, it’s far too easy to over rotate and select Park when you wanted Reverse.
Being a Jeep, the Grand Cherokee L has better off-road capability than most urban SUVs, however it’s not designed to be hardcore at it. While it has a myriad of 4WD functions such as low range, hill descent and terrain select, it’s no Wrangler. Those features will still help you traverse through easy to moderate off-road tracks with relative ease, any trickier terrain and you’d be better off in a Nissan Patrol or Toyota LandCruiser.
The Grand Cherokee L has an official fuel consumption figure of 10.6L/100km on the combined cycle. On test, we averaged 13.0L/100km in the Limited and 10.3L/100km in the Summit Reserve, the latter with extensive country and freeway driving. Given it’s heft and the use of a big V6, it’s certainly not the most efficient large SUV around. However, its large 87-litre fuel tank should still afford around 800km in range.
Design & Comfort
Performance & Handling
Equipment & Features
- Attractive design
- Loads of interior space
- Luxuriosly appointed
- Proper 4WD system
- V6 lacking in torque
- Air suspension needs more finesse
- Underwhelmed instrument cluster
The Jeep Grand Cherokee L is a hulking family SUV that happens to be pretty good looking as well. The interior accommodates seven people comfortably with luxury appointments matching those of other premium brands. However, the V6 feels like it could use a bit more low-down torque, and more finesse is needed to justify the asking price of the range-topping Summit Reserve.
That said, buying a Grand Cherokee L is more than just buying a large family SUV, it’s buying into the big, bold and adventurous image that the Jeep brand brings about. And the Grand Cherokee L can certainly go a little further where most urban SUVs can’t.
2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee L pricing and specification
|Price (Excl. options and on-road costs):||From: $82,750|
|Warranty:||5 years/100,000 kilometers|
|Warranty Customer Service:||5 years roadside assist|
|Country of Origin:||United States of America|
|Service Intervals:||12 months/12,000km|
3.6-litre V6 petrol:
210kW @ 6400rpm, 344Nm @ 4000rpm
|Drivetrain:||Four-wheel drive with low range|
|Combined Fuel Consumption (L/100km):||Claimed: 10.6|
|Body:||SUV, 7 seats|
|Dimensions (L/W/H/W-B) mm:||5,202/1,979/1,817/3,092|
|Tare Mass (kg):||2,270|
|Boot Space (L):||487 (min), 2396 (max)|
|Towing Capacity (kg):||Braked: 2,813/Unbraked: 750|